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Maria Anna of Savoy (September 19, 1803 – May 4, 1884) was Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary by marriage to Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria.



Maria Anna was born in Palazzo Colonna in Rome, the daughter of King Vittorio Emanuele I of Sardinia and his wife, Archduchess Maria Teresa of Austria-Este, daughter of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, governor of Milan and son of Empress Maria Theresa after whom she was named. Her mother was Maria Beatrice d’Este, Duchess of Massa and heir to the Duchy of Modena. Maria Beatrice d’Este, Duchess of Massa, was born in Modena, the eldest child of two monarchs, Ercole III d’Este, Duke of Modena and Maria Teresa Cybo-Malaspina, reigning duchess of Massa and princess of Carrara.

Maria Anna of Savoy had a twin sister Maria Teresa, who became Duchess consort of Parma and Piacenza by marriage to Carlo II, Duke of Parma (Duke Charles I of Lucca).

The two princesses were baptised by Pope Pius VII. Their godparents were their maternal grandparents, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Este and his wife Maria Beatrice Ricciarda d’Este. In the Museo di Roma can be seen a painting of the baptism.

On February 12, 1831 Maria Anna was married by procuration in Turin to Archduke Ferdinand of Austria (later Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria). On February 27, the couple were married in person in Vienna in the Hofburg chapel by the Cardinal Archbishop of Olmütz.

Ferdinand was the eldest son of Franz II-I, Holy Roman Emperor and Emperor of Austria and Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily. Possibly as a result of his parents’ genetic closeness (they were double first cousins), Ferdinand suffered from epilepsy, hydrocephalus, neurological problems, and a speech impediment. He was educated by Baron Josef Kalasanz von Erberg, and his wife Josephine, by birth a Countess von Attems.

When Princess Maria Anna and Archduke Ferdinand married, the court physician considered it unlikely that he would be able to consummate the marriage. When he tried to consummate the marriage, he had five seizures.

Ferdinand succeeded on the death of his father Franz II-I on March 2, 1835. Fredinand also became King Ferdinand V of Hungary. Ferdinand was incapable of ruling his empire because of his mental deficiency, so his father, before he died, made a will which promulgated that Ferdinand should consult Archduke Ludwig on all aspects of internal policy and urged him to be influenced by Prince Metternich, Austria’s Foreign Minister.

Following the Revolutions of 1848, Ferdinand abdicated on December 2, 1848. He was succeeded by his nephew, Franz Joseph. Following his abdication, he lived in Hradčany Palace, Prague, until his death in 1875.

Maria Anna and Ferdinand had no children.

When Ferdinand succeeded as Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary and Bohemia; Maria Anna became Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary and Bohemia. On September 12, 1836 she was crowned as Queen of Bohemia at Prague.

After December 2, 1848 when Ferdinand abdicated as Emperor of Austria, but retaining his imperial rank; Maria Anna was henceforward titled Empress Maria Anna. They lived in retirement together, spending the winters at Prague Castle and the summers at Reichstadt (now Zákupy) or at Ploschkowitz (now Ploskovice).

Maria Anna died in Prague, May 4, 1884 (aged 80). She is buried next to her husband in tomb number 63 in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna.